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Trump Warns of 'Major Conflict' with North Korea; North Korea: If War Breaks Out, U.S. Accountable for It; White House Blames Obama Administration for Flynn Vetting. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.

[05:58:47] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Chinese informed the regime if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is front and center on our national security radar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All scenarios are on the table, so it really is all up to North Korea.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're going to go when we have the votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to health care, once again, Republicans have fallen short.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I say to Republicans in the House, you'll pay a huge price in the 2018 elections if you vote for it.

TRUMP: This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, April 28, 6 a.m. here in New York.

President Trump warns a major conflict is possible with North Korea. Despite these ominous words, the president, though, says that he hopes diplomacy prevails.

CUOMO: Also, the president's tough talk about passing health care has fallen short again. There's going to be no vote on a new health care Bill today or perhaps anytime soon.

Also, we have the president's very revealing admission about the presidency he just gave in an interview.

A lot to cover on the eve of President Trump's 100-day milestone. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House.

Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

The president and his top diplomat, essentially, articulating the dual prongs of what has become a much more muscular approach to North Korea than in the past.

On the one hand, suggesting conflict could happen. On the other hand, in a bit of a shift, suggesting direct talks and a diplomatic solution could also be on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: There's a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.

JOHNS (voice-over): A sobering message from President Trump, warning about the possibility of escalation with North Korea in a new interview with Reuters, cautioning that the U.S. would "love to solve things diplomatically, but it's very difficult." Mr. Trump praising China's president for putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop their nuclear tests.

TRUMP: I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi, and I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation.

JOHNS: And even offering a bit of praise for North Korea's dictator.

TRUMP: His father dies. He took over a regime. So say what you want, but that's not easy, especially at that age. I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I'm saying that's a very hard thing to do.

As to whether or not he's rational? I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational.

JOHNS: These remarks coming as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicates a potentially major shift in diplomatic policy, telling NPR the administration is open to direct talks with North Korea as long as the agenda is right.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: All scenarios on the table. Also, it really is all up to North Korea. We're not looking to pick a fight. But don't give us a reason to have one.

JOHNS: The North Korean threat just one of the challenges the administration is facing as it reaches the 100-day milestone tomorrow.

Domestically, despite a furious push from the White House, Republicans now conceding they don't have the 216 votes necessary to move forward with their Bill to repeal Obamacare.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What you see in the GOP haste to pass the Bill and Trump trying to cram it down in the last 100 days, I think President Trump is really making fools of the members of Congress of his own party.

JOHNS: Democrats threatening to pull their support for today's must- pass spending Bill to avert a government shutdown if Republicans were to move forward with a health care vote. President Trump telling Reuters, "If there's a shutdown, there's a shutdown."

This as a new "Washington Post" interview sheds light on President Trump's reversal of pulling out of NAFTA.

TRUMP: So I decided, rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big shock to the system, we will renegotiate.

JOHNS: The president telling "The Post" he was all set to terminate the trade deal and looked forward to it until he abruptly changed his mind on Wednesday after being persuaded by advisers and the leaders of Canada and Mexico. Fourteen million American jobs depend on the trade deal. President Trump reflecting on the presidency and realities of governing.

TRUMP: I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: The president travels today to Atlanta, Georgia, to deliver remarks to the National Rifle Association. Tomorrow, the 100th day of his administration, he travels to Pennsylvania for a campaign-style rally -- Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right, Joe, so as the war of words between the U.S. and North Korea heats up, the reclusive regime is now responding to President Trump's ominous comments. CNN's Will Ripley live in Pyongyang, North Korea, with the reaction. Remember, he's the only western TV journalist there right now.

And it's a good thing you are. What do you know?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Chris, I want to read you the statement just coming out from North Korean state media, a commentary calling the United States a gangster and saying that the tensions are really inching to the point of war. Rhetoric that we've heard before from North Carolina. But with the Trump administration, this is a whole new world.

Let me read this. "In case a war breaks out on the peninsula," North Korea says, "the U.S. will be held wholly accountable for it, no matter who made the preemptive attack."

And this has been a busy week here, militarily. There was that massive live fire exercise, the largest in North Korean history, reportedly. It's been about two weeks since that failed missile launch attempt earlier this month on April 16, one day after the Day of the Sun.

But North Korean officials say they will continue to launch missiles, and they're also saying that they will conduct another nuclear test, which would be their sixth nuclear test at a moment of their choosing. When you ask them if influence from the United Nations Security Council, which has that meeting happening today or influence from China may cause them to dial back their activities, to delay the nuclear test.

[06:05:08] They are actually infuriated about that suggestion. They say absolutely not. They say this country will continue to do what it needs to do to develop weapons of mass destruction that their supreme leader, Kim Jon-un, views as an insurance policy to protect this country and keep the regime in place -- Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Will, thank you so much for being on the ground there in Pyongyang for you. You are the only western television journalist there. WE should let our viewers know.

We have a lot to discuss, so let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analysts David Gregory and Maggie Haberman; and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Ron, I'll start with you. North Korea, when the president says there's a chance we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea, I mean, isn't he just sort of stating the truth there out loud?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, we know that. That has been true for many years. The question is whether saying it out loud is a positive or a negative. You know, the president's defenders have talked about the madman theory of Richard Nixon. The idea that this is someone who you don't know exactly what they're going to do, and that gives us leverage with countries around the world.

This is also someone who says things that you don't often hear in public. At that is kind of unease to our allies around the world. And at the same time that he is saying that, you know, he is saying in interviews that he wants South Korea to pay for the missile defense system that we view as a critical part, deterrent and also tells "The Washington Post" this instinct is to pull out and terminate the U.S.- South Korea free trade agreement.

So you kind of take all of this together, and is it the madman theory of someone who is unpredictable, or is it someone who is lurching around? And I think that is the divide, both at home and around the world.

CUOMO: The balance of disruption versus destruction.

Now, interesting concept. We're the American people, in terms of how they're going to judge this heightened talk. The president. Take a look at this. New CNN polls. North Korea, an immediate threat to the United States?

Thirty-seven percent. Long-time 49 percent. Not a threat at all? Thirteen percent. Surprisingly low, I would suggest.

Now, if North Korea attacks South Korea, should the U.S. send troops? Sixty-seven percent, two out of three respondents say yes. Troops to North Korea -- David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm astounded by that number. I frankly don't think the American public is really focused on what kind of war we would be looking at on the Korean Peninsula with the nuclear weapons involved, ballistic missiles involving conventional weapons, involved, you know, 30,000 troops, 35,000 troops on the ground there. I mean, I think it's an incredibly scary proposition.

And you know, I go back. I've been looking into this era back in the Truman administration. Dean Acheson, secretary of state at the time, would sit around the table with the joint chiefs and the president and say what is it that we want out of North Korea? The answer, not very much.

What happens in North Korea stays in North Korea. And obviously, making sure it's not nuclear North Korea is incredibly important. We should also remember, to Ron's point, Harry Truman threatened the use of an atomic weapon. It was a huge deal in 1950 when he said he was kind of hemmed in by Douglas MacArthur, who was the commander in the field at the time.

So I do think he's upping the ante in a way that does appear more strategic, because he's really pushing the Chinese to pull North Korea back, while at the same time they're signaling that they're willing to negotiate. I think that's a pretty smart strategy, as far as we can glean.

CUOMO: Especially if you fold in what Tillerson did.

GREGORY: That's what I'm saying. Talking about direct negotiation. That's where we want to be. We want to either covertly disrupt these tests, and we want to find some way to negotiate North Korea off the edge.

BROWNSTEIN: How does the economic -- how does the economic pressure on South Korea fit into that?

GREGORY: Yes. I don't know.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know. But that is a problem, right?

Ron, it is very unclear how much of this is actual strategy versus a president who has no linear thought process or no linear foreign policy doctrine or, frankly, domestic policy doctrine. There is no actual sense this is something where they're all singing from the same hymnal inside the White House. In a sense, from the people I spoke to last night, it was that this is the president saying something. And I think sort of realizing belatedly that it might have gone further than he meant to. He is not -- I know that we say this about every context with him that he is so totally unused to the degree to which his words matter. And he seemed to almost realize that in some of these 100-day interviews that he gave yesterday.

CAMEROTA: OK. Moving on, health care.

CUOMO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about where we are with that. As you know, the president and Reince Priebus had promised -- predicted, I should say, on the weekend shows last weekend, that there might be a vote this week. I believe you all could have told them that's not going to happen. As we did on the air say that.

BROWNSTEIN: Is this day 99 or day 49? Maybe we can run the tape of what we said.

CAMEROTA: They STILL have the votes.

HABERMAN: And they don't have the votes from the moderate group of Republican House members. This is -- the problem for this White House is, A, they were not all singing again from the same page in terms of when they wanted this vote to take place.

There were some people who did not want to be so overt in pushing for a vote this week. The president badly wanted some kind of legislative accomplishment, and Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, was the one who was most aggressively pushing for that.

[06:10:07] CUOMO: He wanted a win, right? And so this is a signature promise. You know, right? We'd have to call it that. And he doesn't even get a vote on it. And again, he was put in a bad position. Somebody, you know, maybe Reince Priebus, because this was obviously his part of the agenda. Said go out there and tell them to do it next week.

CAMEROTA: Or maybe he told them I wanted that.

CUOMO: Here's my suspicion on that. That's totally legit. But that's not the way Trump thinks. He doesn't think he knows how the legislators think. You know what I mean? He understands tactics on what we should do, but he doesn't know where they're coming from. That's why he needs these other guys. So if they say, go strong on this next week. Now he was made to look like he couldn't deliver.

GREGORY: This is such a hideous example of crisis management. For what? For this point about 100 days? I mean, this is major public policy that affects real people's lives. Their coverage. Millions of people. You're just willy-nilly. So we're going to deny coverage. You've got to work this through. I mean, look at all the problems with Obamacare. They took their time with it.

So it is horrible management and whoever is responsible. And I tend to think you're right. I think that he does outsource a lot. This is why he's in so much trouble. This chaotic management and then the potential of losing again.

Let me tell you something. This is also a failure of leadership of congressional leaders. We can't stand up to him or won't stand up to him and say we need some discipline if we're going to change major aspects of how the country is run.

HABERMAN: That, I think, is the big answer. I hate to interrupt. But I do think that that's something that doesn't get focused on enough here, is that essentially, the Republican Party has yet to move from being the minority party to the governing party. And that is a...

BROWNSTEIN: And again, let's not forget. The House Republican leadership made the call that the way to solve this was to lurch it significantly further to the right. If you are any Republican House member in anything approaching a competitive district, why would you vote for a Bill that was at 17 percent approval before they decided to remove the nationwide protection for pre-existing condition.

Seventy percent of the country...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: ... 78 percent of people in "The Washington Post," including 78 percent of people aged 50 to 64 who recognized that they are the ones, older working adults are the ones who get hit by this at the time -- at a time when the GOP, the core of the GOP coalition, are now older, lower income whites who would be losers under this provision and know it.

So if you know that, and you know anything like this is extremely unlikely likely to get through the Senate, why go out and vote for it and put yourself in the position of being hammered by it in the fall of 2018. It's never going to become law.

CAMEROTA: That brings to us NAFTA. The reports are...

BROWNSTEIN: As Bill Clinton used to say. NAFTA because we have to.

CAMEROTA: ... the president was moments away, hours away from signing an executive order to pull out of NAFTA and then, you know, somebody came into the office, the agriculture secretary and said, "Let me point out to you where people who like NAFTA live." He changed his tune.

HABERMAN: So I'm slightly skeptical of this narrative that has come out.

CUOMO: The Perdue narrative?

CAMEROTA: Think he was shown a map.

HABERMAN: All of the details are true. But that still doesn't mean that the president was just about to go do this and then got pulled back from the brink. It is true that there were a bunch of people in the White House who thought this is where the president was going, that he was going down this path.

I think the president tends to be a little more strategic in his own mind about this. He will let aides think he is going to a certain place, and then he will change his mind. There was an intervention. There was, again, third time we're talking about this. A split within the West Wing on what to do. But that doesn't mean that the president was sort of whipsawed and uncertain until he was handed...

CUOMO: What does the president want to do more than anything else? He wants to win.

HABERMAN: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: Of course. This is confusing, because...

GREGORY: Fourteen million jobs would be sacrificed if he just were to blow up NAFTA. That is a huge deal. And I can't believe...

CAMEROTA: Just one thing on that. Because during the campaign, he promised manufacturing, people who were losing manufacturing jobs, that NAFTA -- pulling out of NAFTA would be good for them. So it's like agriculture versus manufacturing.

CUOMO: But his problem is this. We've seen this now on several major issues, where what he said -- forget about this campaign in poetry, govern in prose. That's not what this is.

GREGORY: Who said that?

CUOMO: This is he didn't know -- nobody who should have said that. This is the deal. He says things that weren't true. And now he is in control, he's having to own these problems. Who knew health care was complicated? Turns out China and North Korea have a little bit of a history.

GREGORY: But you can also -- you can also compliment him. That is a fair criticism. But I think -- Maggie and I were talking about this before. You have to give him credit for, yes, he said things that were either untrue or that were unreasonable in the campaign. And at least he's listening. He is listening. If somebody says, "You know what? This is really not going to amount to what you think, he doesn't want to have that kind of blow to the economy."

So the criticism is, well, maybe you should have thought this through when you were, you know, criticizing NAFTA so much. But at least he is flipping toward the reasoning.

And the evidence we're seeing is Donald Trump in many ways was an independent candidate who ran as Republican. He is bringing this kind of economic, racially-changed nationalism to the party. And if you look at the three big elements of it, on immigration it's largely full-speed ahead, with the exception of the wall, where he needs Congress to come with him.

On trade, it's back and forth, and it is a constant kind of struggle. I mean, yes, he did not completely blow up NAFTA, but he is taking a hard line on a variety of trade issues, including what we talked about with South Korea. And then you have the global affairs, where his instinct during the campaign, I think, was very -- and going back 30 years was transactional. Everything -- and now he's pulled in the other direction.

CUOMO: Part of the measure of leadership is what you know and how you go about putting that into action. And in the latest interviews that you just had, that reality becomes very clear. He just said in an interview with who? Who was it?

HABERMAN: There were three interviews.

CUOMO: Three interviews.

CAMEROTA: We can listen.

CUOMO: Yes. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I loved my -- I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I -- actually, this is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a -- I'm a details oriented person. I think you would say that. But I do miss my old life. This -- I like to work, so that's not a problem. But this is actually more work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY: Thanks, Captain Obvious. The presidency is actually tough work.

CUOMO: But do we congratulate him for understanding that? Or...

HABERMAN: Look, I honestly -- listen, I do agree with David. This was a conversation we were having in the green room. That on the one hand, you're not going to change who he is, and you're not going to change what happened in the past. And he ran and said things that he perhaps did not fully understand. He is acknowledging that.

Now, you don't normally hear a president, you don't normally hear a city councilman say something like that. There is a certain amount of vulnerability that he is showing. And yes, it is obvious that the presidency is hard work. But when you didn't hear him saying that before, you basically heard him saying, "This is so easy. I can do this so quickly," he got hit for that, too.

CAMEROTA: You know, armchair analysis, which we like to do. I like that. That candor. He doesn't often say how he's feeling.

BROWNSTEIN: The word "actually" is so fascinating there. It's actually hard work. I mean, well, really? As David said, I mean, when he said that about health care, who knew it was complicated? Harry Truman knew that. Richard Nixon knew that. Bill Clinton knew that. It's complicated. And I do think, though, I mean, in many ways, it is -- there are two things. One thing is this is larger than individuals. These are different visions in the party and in the country. And secondly, you do continue to have the sense that there is a government that is producing outcomes and you have a president who is over here saying and tweeting things that may or may not be connected to the other process.

CAMEROTA: Guys, believe it or not, we have other top stories that we have to get to. Stick around, because we have other questions.

CUOMO: There's another situation heating up. The blame game over the Michael Flynn mess. This is another issue about who should be held to account. The Trump administration is claiming that Michael Flynn is Obama's fault. That that White House failed to properly vet Michael Flynn. How do you feel about that? We're going to give you the timing and the realities, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:22:14] CUOMO: The Pentagon's inspector general is investigating whether President Trump's fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, broke the law when he accepted payments from Russia and Turkey after retiring from the military.

The Trump White House is now trying to blame the Obama administration for giving Flynn security clearance. Here's their case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So the issue is, you know, he was issued a security clearance under the Obama administration in the spring of 2016. The trip and transactions that you're referring to occurred in December of 2015, from what I understand.

So, you know, obviously, there's an issue that, as you point out, that the Department of Defense and the inspector general is looking into. We welcome that. But all of that clearance was --was made by the Obama -- during the Obama administration and apparently with knowledge of the trip that he took.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Court is in session. Let's bring back David Gregory, Maggie Haberman and CNN counterterrorism expert Phil Mudd.

Brother Mudd, you're new. We'll bring you in first. The idea, essentially is, "Well, we didn't really have to vet him, because he had been vetted by the other guys. So anything that went wrong with Flynn is really on them."

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I love comedy at 6:20 in the morning. Let me give you two perspective on it -- two perspectives on this. First, Chris, I have a top-secret security clearance. Does that mean...

CUOMO: Which is speaking in and of itself. In spite (ph) of this conversation.

MUDD: Actually, it's the first time I actually agree with you on that. But my point is if I make a mistake today, if I take money from the Russians, is it the White House responsibility to determine what I'm doing? So to suggest that a politician is responsible for a security clearance is goofy.

You know who the person is responsible for that? Michael Flynn to tell the Department of Defense what he's doing.

There's a second question that nobody is asking of the White House. And this is what somebody should ask Sean Spicer today. Forget about security clearance. There's an ethical issue.

When you're in the White House, you participate in sensitive discussions about military action that affects markets, maybe about major defense contracts. The question is, was there an ethics form where General Flynn declared to the White House, "This is where I took money, and this is where my money is invested"? If the answer to that is no, that's a pretty serious question, as well, and the White House hasn't answered that one yet.

CAMEROTA: I think it's helpful to look at the timeline. Let's look at the time line so that we're all on the same page of what happened with Michael Flynn.

So in April 2014, he's forced out by the Obama administration. Then in October of 2014, he is warned not to accept payments from foreign governments. In 2015, he is then paid to speak at the RT, Russia Television, event.

Spring 2016. This is still in the Obama administration. OK? Flynn's security clearance is renewed. That's what the White House now is hanging their hat on.

And then, you know in November of 2016, he becomes candidate Trump's -- well, President Trump's national security adviser.

[06:25:06] So Maggie, do they have any point? What is their point?

HABERMAN: Their point is that it is somebody else's fault and not theirs. And I think that that is a complicated point to make.

As you noted at the beginning of that graphic, he was shoved out by President Obama. So yes, it is true that, in terms of the way the security clearances work, yes, that was the administration under which it was reupped. But the Obama administration made clear it had trust issues.

CAMEROTA: Why did they renew his security clearance?

HABERMAN: I don't know enough about the way this works. Phil Mudd knows that.

CAMEROTA: Phil, can you answer that? MUDD: Sure. When you go through that process, you've got to fill out

a form. I fill out forms every year. The onus is on the individual who's being re-cleared -- in that case, it would be me or General Flynn -- to say, "This is what I've done."

CAMEROTA: To disclose?

MUDD: That's exactly right.

CUOMO: See, they renewed the clearance based on what Flynn said. Not on any kind of vetting.

We've got two real issues here. OK? The first one is, if they wanted to look for -- to the Obama administration for guidance, they got the loudest message they could have, OK? Obama got rid of Flynn, had legitimate questions about him. That's one.

Two, you vet the person that you want in your administration. You do the background check. You own them. And this guy was shoulder to shoulder with the president. This is a frightening lack of responsibility, because if they want to duck this, David, what won't they duck?

GREGORY: I -- I agree with everything you just said. What I don't understand is why -- why wouldn't you want to help? I mean, why not give everything you've got?

If you want to stand up, as Spicer did yesterday, and say, you know, "The president fired this guy and in the nick of time. Boy, we did the right thing at the right time, and that was a great call," why not be helpful?

And the reason why is because they made a hideous misjudgment with Michael Flynn. They had a guy who was tied to a foreign power, the very power that tried to manipulate our election, shaping his foreign policy views. The candidate and then the president; and he was national security adviser.

HABERMAN: I go one step further, though. I don't know that -- I think that's part of it. I don't think it's the only reason. I think that when you had that tweet from President Trump a couple weeks ago, saying that Flynn should take immunity.

CUOMO: Witch hunt.

HABERMAN: Right. I don't believe that that was just sort of, you know, "You go." There was some sense from some people close in the administration and inside the administration -- there was essentially -- there is an acknowledgment that Michael Flynn knows a lot.

And so -- and it's not really clear whether it will be problematic for him to be talking to people as he's trying to offer himself for immunity. And what he -- I don't know the extent of what he might know. But I do know a common concern for Donald Trump over the course of his career has been sort of having potential, you know, allies who turn sort of problems outside of your sphere of control, versus inside.

GREGORY: That's interesting. Right. And who could -- somebody could easily talk about things that Trump has said, positions he's taken, or even his achievement within the White House. But you've got to believe that Pence, you know, the vice president, said, you know, they had to get wind of this stuff coming down. He could be in real legal jeopardy here. I'm sure they're like, "You've got to get rid of this guy." You know?

CUOMO: I mean, his lawyers say he disclosed it the way he needed to, and you have some very kind of tricky notice provisions with how the law works here.

His disclosure thing with Pence is a non-issue legally. The FBI said they're not going to consider anything there. So it does seem to be largely political. And it seems to have one word hanging all over it, Mudd, "Russia." This man is another example of a clumsy or either unwitting affinity to the forces of Russia and their desires to get hands on people in power in the United States.

MUDD: That's right. Look, let me tell you what happened here. Because as a former government official, this is pretty easy to see. You have a tone in the campaign. That tone is "Actually, Vladimir Putin is OK, despite what happened in previous administrations."

People like Michael Flynn take that tone and say, "We're going to talk to Russian officials and tell them there's a new sheriff in town or there will be in January and we'll reverse what the Obama administration did."

Some of what they did, including General Flynn's conversations with the ambassador, turned out to be completely inappropriate. So this story looks messy, but I think from the outside it's pretty clear. A tone was set and individuals did things that were inappropriate when they absorbed the president's tone and started talking with Russian officials.

GREGORY: Can I just say, there's a distinction between misjudgment and whether he broke the law. We don't know. And it could be perfectly innocent. We can still scrutinize his judgment. It's important to say.

CAMEROTA: Fair enough. Panel, thank you very much for all the information. Have a great weekend.

All right. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson heading to the United Nations today to talk about North Korea. Is America's top diplomat reversing the U.S. position on negotiating with Kim Jong-un? We have a live report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)